Summer Experiments: Furniture For Taking Forty Winks

Okay so to explain the strange title, I literally had no idea what to name this post, so I went on thesaurus.com to search for synonyms for beds. And the first result came up with the definition “furniture for sleeping,” which made me laugh out loud because it just seemed so simple it was funny. And then I thought, hm, this title could use some alliteration. Once again, a thesaurus search somehow led me to a synonym for sleeping, i.e “taking forty winks.” I’ve really no clue why it’s forty. I mean, if I could wink forty times and get the equivalent of eight hours of sleep, that would be amazing.

Anyway. A couple weeks ago, we announced a new writing strategy for y’all to try out, which was to only write while in bed. Seems simple enough, but perhaps simple isn’t necessarily the best way to go about things. To explain, we had our lovely Director of Volunteering, Shriya, participate in this method. And let’s say I did too, because I’m currently writing this post while lying in bed. Productivity.

This is what Shriya had to say: “Lying down in bed seemed like a great idea, until I realized my body wanted to sleep much more than I wanted to write. I just kept falling asleep before I got anything more than a couple words down. And since I’m working on a song right now… I kept wanting to sit up so I could sing properly. All in all, I think I composed more in the shower than I did in bed.

Good idea, Shriya, perhaps that should be our next w- oh wait. It might be rather difficult to make that a writing strategy because… words… would get wet… Yeah.

I’ve written while in bed on multiple occasions, so I’ll explicate those past experiences. Sometimes I have way too many thoughts running through my head at night, and I get restless. So I’ll take out my phone and start writing, be it my thoughts and feelings or a story idea. Eventually, those thoughts begin to slow, and I would write until exhaustion overtakes me. I think that writing, especially at night right before you sleep, really helps you put an order to your thoughts so that you might fall asleep more peacefully or quickly as opposed to letting your mind wander. These entries could be about anything, from a recap of the day’s events, to whatever else is in your head at the moment. I also find that night time is when my thoughts flow more freely, unfiltered and unrestrained.

But, if you actually want to be productive, it may be better to sit up straight while writing. When you have a goal you intend to fulfill while writing, it may be better to be as awake as possible by not lying in bed. Basically, this strategy is particularly good for falling asleep and letting your words run one right after the other, without fear of your own limitations.

As usual, let us know at thewritersden@ucla.edu if you want to send in a writing strategy of your own. We will be your guinea pigs.  And leave a comment if you ever try these approaches out for yourself – maybe your experience is different than ours. We’ve got more strategies coming your way. So prepare yoselves, and happy writing!

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Summer Updates: The Good, The Bad, and The Bartender

It is nearly the end of second week of Summer Session C, which means we are on a due course toward midterms and flailing our fists in a panic. However, we’ve had a good first two meetings thus far! The first week, we totally got the room wrong so we’re sorry for the confusion. We are definitely in Ackerman for our summer meetings, for anyone who wants to join us, not Kerckhoff. I never knew there was a hallway just before reaching Campus Cuts, nor that said hall would lead to the Global Viewpoint Lounge. Shortcuts o:. We also had cookies, introduced ourselves, and dusted the cobwebs off of whatever writing project each individual needed to attend to.

At the second meeting, we had more cookies, courtesy of Ari Reider. We chose character roles for ourselves and verbally brainstormed an outline for a soap opera. Needless to say, it was an interesting experience to see how the character archetypes “The Other Woman,” “The Butler,” “The Bartender,” “The Fairy Godmother,” “The Playboy,” “The Actor,” “The Illegitimate Child” and “The Problem Solver” would interact with one another. The details are rather complicated since we did not put the ideas down to paper until mid-way through, but I know that at least one person died by running into a wall. Spoiler alert.

We’ve had a lot of fun, so we hope you guys can make it to the next meeting! And meet us by the Bruin bear at 7:20pm to join us for an improv show tomorrow, August 14th.

Meanwhile, now’s a good time to introduce the next summer experiment! The strategy is almost as exciting as the previous one:

Only write while in bed.

Take that as you will. Find a bed, write stuff while atop it. If you don’t own a bed, find someone else’s. Perhaps you’ll choose to sit on the bed while writing, or lie down à la french girl. Whatever floats your boat.

As always, let us know if you’re interested in trying out this writing strategy, or send one our way at thewritersden@ucla.edu. Happy writing!

Summer Experiments: The Last Stand

Forgive me for the cheesy title, but I thought it was funny. Anyhoo, remember how we mentioned that we’d be blogging about our summer experiments? The time has finally come. Cue dramatic music.

Well, it was only Anna, our wonderful executive director, and Amy (aka me, I’m speaking in third person, this is weird) who had to suffer through this specific writing strategy. The strategy that we had to do for a week was: Only write while standing up. So, we did, and this was Anna’s response:

“Standing up is hard work, and I am lazy. This week, I learned that at least some of my love for writing stems from the fact that it is an activity typically performed while sitting. On the first day of the experiment, I was about to sit down to write, but then I remembered that I needed to stand and got really, really sad. After about five minutes of scribbling, I wanted a break.

Needless to say, the first experiment did not increase my writing productivity as I hoped it would. Sadface. BUT I have one important tip for those who want to try it out: find a writing surface of appropriate height. If you are bending or crouching, failure is basically guaranteed.

Happy writing, friends!”

The love for sitting is completely understandable. Personally, I like lying down while writing, but I did try out the standing. I may have cheated a little by leaning against the wall, or propping my leg on a couch to steady myself, but oh well. I agree that it was more tiring to write while standing. However, in a way, it was somewhat motivating for me. I had to put in more energy to hold myself up, so I wasn’t as distracted by messages and the internet. I would’ve had to stand longer if I’d procrastinated on writing, which would’ve been more unwanted effort. So, this method somewhat increased my productivity.

As a bonus, I attempted to beg my good friend, Sally, to join in on this experiment, and she told me that she had actually tried writing while standing up before. She immediately said that it was “tiring” and “not a good strategy.” When I asked her to clarify, she revised her statement. She was at her parents’ restaurant and had been sitting for a while, so she decided to stand by the counter while she wrote. The method was fine, she thought, but she felt that “it’s easier to lose focus after a while” and that “it’s harder to keep good handwriting.”

So it sounds like, based on this small sample size, the general consensus is that writing while standing is tiring. However, it may encourage some of you to stay focused if this strategy was applied for a short period of time.

If any of you guys try this out, feel free to leave a comment below! And send us more writing strategies our way at thewritersden@ucla.edu. We’ll be posting the next writing strategy soon, so stay tuned!

Summer Experiments

Hey party people, hope that your summer’s going well!

We’ve got an exciting project coming up, in the form of what we’d like to call writing experiments. While the fancy italics might make the term sound tall, dark and mysterious, the concept is quite simple. Every few weeks, we’ll have a new writing strategy posted on the blog for anyone to try out. Our purpose is to see how effective these techniques may be, and how much of a fool we, the participants, can make of ourselves.

These strategies may range from something as simple as writing in bed, to writing while intoxicated (not that we’re advocating that; it’s The Writer’s Den, not The Writer’s Tavern).

You might want to sit down to prepare for this next bit.

This time, our writing strategy will be…

Only write while standing up.

Thrilling, we know. But hey, if you wanna join in on the fun, or if you have a writing strategy you’d like to suggest, shoot us an email! You can reach us at thewritersden@ucla.edu

In case you have yet to sign up for our summer 2015 mailing list, feel free to do so here if you’re interested.

Thanks guys, and have a wonderful day!

Priorities

I’ve decided to make “In Pursuit of Productivity” a biweekly series because it gives me more time to effectively observe and analyze each strategy in order to capture the essence of each…uh…

Okay, so I didn’t write last week.

But–but–I was busy with roommates moving in and out and then cleaning out the apartment and then there’s this giant project for a summer class and it’s too hot in LA to do anything and I hosted a summer Writer’s Den event and there were these really good books I couldn’t put down and…and…and I really meant to get writing done! It’s the thought that counts, right?

I can make all the excuses I want, but the reality is I didn’t write because it wasn’t a priority.

Maybe I could have gotten up a little earlier, or taken a break from working on the school project, or dragged myself to an air-conditioned library to work on a story. But I didn’t.

Sometimes life happens and we just can’t prioritize writing, but for the most part we have room in our schedules for just a little bit each day—before going to bed, maybe, or during that awkward hour between classes. The problem is we don’t fit it in and the stories never get written.

Here’s a challenge: Pick a day this weekend and make writing a priority. I’m choosing Sunday. Care to join?

“What Can You Pen?” Creative Writing Contest Results

We would like to thank everyone who submitted to our annual contest, and especially to our honorary judges — Karen Kevorkian, Mark Richard, Leslie Schwartz, and Reed Wilson — for their expertise and time dedicated to the support of UCLA student writers. Their comments on the winning submissions are reprinted below. Continue reading ““What Can You Pen?” Creative Writing Contest Results”